EAST LIVERPOOL - A little boy whose dream came true after a nightmare of medical issues will serve as parade marshal for the city's annual Christmas parade at 6 p.m. Dec. 8.
Jayden Barber, 5, of Youngstown will reign over the parade, themed "The Shining Stars of Christmas," after being diagnosed earlier in the year as terminally ill.
After contracting cancer and then leukemia and undergoing numerous rounds of chemotherapy and other treatments, Jayden was hoping to meet actor Christian Bale, who played Batman in "The Dark Knight Rises."
Tens of thousands of people went online to convince the star to come and meet the boy. Bale did one better: He privately flew Jayden and his family to California for a visit.
Jayden's health condition has also improved dramatically in the intervening months and last reports indicated he is in remission.
The parade, sponsored by the East Liverpool Area Jaycees, will begin at 6 p.m., with registration starting at 4:30 p.m. for those who have not pre-registered and lineup starting at 5 p.m. Leetonia police Chief John Soldano will serve as parade announcer.
Units are still welcome to register by calling Brian Vaughn at 330-831-5754, but since Santa Claus has already been invited to attend, no other Santa Clauses will be accepted.
Santa will be accompanied on his sleigh by the winners of the Snow King and Snow Queen and Jack Frost and Little Miss Snowflake contest.
The Snow King and Queen contest is open to children between 5 and 9 years old, while the Jack Frost and Little Miss Snowflake contest is open to those between 2 and 4 years old.
Registration for the contest will remain open until Nov. 30, and those interested in entering their children can contact Paula Vaughn at 330-853-8630 between 5-9 p.m.
Participants are required to collect donations, and those collecting the most will be declared the winners in each category.
All donations will have to be turned in on Dec. 5 at the Lifeteam office downtown so they can be counted to determine the winners. Proceeds from the contest will be used to offset expenses of the Christmas events.
Anyone willing to donate the use of a convertible for the parade is also asked to contact Brian Vaughn as soon as possible.
Immediately following the parade, light up night activities are planned for Devon's Diamond, where the Christmas tree will be lit, and Mayor Jim Swoger will offer comments.
The East Liverpool High School choir will perform and winners of a window decorating contest will be announced, as will the names of the Snow King and Queen and Little Miss Snowflake and Jack Frost.
Spectators are being asked to bring a box or can of non-perishable food to the light up festivities to be donated to the Salvation Army, which will be represented there.
Businesses wishing to have their decorated windows considered in the contest should contact Brian Vaughn. Winners will receive decorative wreaths for their windows.
After light up night activities, photos with Santa Claus will be offered at Kent State University.
Starting the day, breakfast with Santa will again be held at the Masonic Temple, sponsored by the Crystal Chapter No. 18 of the Order of Eastern Star. More details on this event will be forthcoming or can be found at www.visitelo.com.
Additional information on Christmas in the City can also be had by calling the Tourism Bureau at 234-517-7052, which is a local call.